On January 1 of this year, the Affordable Care Act enacted new rules that make it possible for employers to reward employees for improving their health – or penalize them for failing to do so.
More specifically, an employer can implement a wellness program and offer financial incentives with the goal of improving the employee health. The most common incentive for meeting the standards of a wellness program is a discount on health insurance premiums. Some companies have offered cash rewards and gift cards.
Employees can also be forced to pay higher premiums for failing to adhere to an approved wellness program, although most companies prefer incentives over penalties. Of course, the more serious penalty is likely to come in the form of illness and chronic disease that could have been prevented if employees had embraced a wellness lifestyle.
Companies can reduce health insurance premiums for employees by as much as 30 percent if standards are met. In certain cases, like programs that involve reducing or stopping the use of tobacco, employees can have their premiums cut in half.
A survey by Fidelity Investments and the National Business Group found that employers plan to boost incentives by 15 percent in 2014. The average incentive is $594 per employee, up from $521 in 2013 and $260 in 2009.
A healthier workforce is a more productive workforce. Wellness programs help to reduce absenteeism, a habitual absence due to health issues, as well as presenteeism, which occurs when employees are physical present but not working at optimal capacity due to physical illness and stress.
After implementing a wellness program, companies can then go back to their health insurance providers and negotiate lower rates.
As of last year, the average cost of health insurance per employee was more than $10,000, according to the Insurance Office of America. 75 percent of all healthcare costs are related to chronic conditions, most of which are preventable.
For more than 20 years, I’ve been delivering life-changing health education seminars to local businesses and organizations through my Wellness at Work program. I educate people about a number of topics, focusing on the dangers of chronic illness and the benefits of a true wellness lifestyle.
For example, I’ll be serving as the health educator for the city of Long Branch to increase participation in their City Well program and provide educational resources to more than 350 municipal employees. I’ll also be speaking at Monmouth University to increase participation in their established employee wellness program.
As far back as 2008, thanks to a very forward-thinking CEO, I delivered the keynote to 900 employees of Wentworth Property Management at their annual event designed to improve the company culture and quality of life.
My Wellness at Work seminars can not only help you reduce healthcare costs, but they can also help your employees lead healthier lives and be more productive. That’s why I’m offering 35 free speaking engagements in Monmouth and Ocean Counties in 2014.
I hope you’ll encourage your business or organization to take advantage of this offer. With healthcare costs spiraling out of control and the entire healthcare system on the verge of collapse, federal legislation now gives you more power than ever to make a positive change by implementing a wellness program. Let me show you how.
Dr. James Proodian is an accomplished chiropractic physician and health educator who founded Proodian Healthcare Family of Companies to help people feel better, function better, and live longer. His expertise for the past two decades has been in physical rehabilitation, and he has successfully established himself as a spinal specialist. In his practice, he advocates the science of functional medicine, which takes an integrative approach to treating patients by addressing their physical, nutritional, and psychological needs. Alarmed by the escalation of complex, chronic illness in our country, Dr. Proodian has been speaking to companies and organizations through his “Wellness at Work” program since 1994, motivating thousands of people to make positive lifestyle choices and lead healthier, more productive lives. He can be heard weekly on his radio program, “Proodian Healthcare By Design,” on Tandem Radio.